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3R Project Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents


Beta Toolkit


What is the beta Toolkit?
How do I find the beta Toolkit? Can anyone access it?
Who are the intended users of the beta Toolkit?
Should I apply the beta Toolkit instructions now in my everyday cataloguing work?
How do I provide feedback on the content and functionality of the beta Toolkit?
What is the timetable for future development?
Why are there so many options in the beta Toolkit?
What are the major changes in instructions between the original Toolkit and the beta Toolkit?
What is an application profile, and how is it relevant to the beta Toolkit?
What is the visual browser, and when will it be added to the beta Toolkit?
When will the RSC begin accepting formal proposals for changes to RDA, and what process should be followed?

3R Project


What is the 3R Project?
When will the 3R Project be completed?
Will there be training for the new Toolkit and the new RDA content?
Will the pre-3R Project Toolkit continue to be available after the release of the new Toolkit?
Why isn’t this called RDA 2.0?

RDA Redesign and Restructure


Will the instructions in the new RDA Toolkit be numbered and how will they be referenced?
Will there be an index to RDA?
Will a print version of the RDA guidance and instructions be available?
Will there be an opportunity for customizing the new Toolkit?
Will AACR2 be available in the new Toolkit?
Will examples in MARC be added to RDA?
Will RDA mappings change?
How will the revision history of RDA be documented?

RDA Content


Why is RDA being changed to align with the IFLA Library Reference Model?
What are the benefits of aligning with the IFLA Library Reference Model?
What are the issues in aligning with the IFLA Library Reference Model, and how will they be resolved?
Why is the LRM Res entity not included in RDA?
What is a manifestation statement and why should I use it?
How will the subject relationships be included in RDA?

Moving forward with RDA


What is the way forward for implementing linked data with RDA?
Where are the systems that can take advantage of RDA and related standards?
How is the RDA Registry developed during the 3R Project?

Beta Toolkit



What is the beta Toolkit?

The beta Toolkit is a preliminary version of the new RDA Toolkit that is being developed by the 3R Project. The design, structure, and layout are nearly complete, but there is substantial ongoing development of the guidance and instructions. For further information, see RSC/Chair/19 - Outcomes of the RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign Project.


How do I find the beta Toolkit? Can anyone access it?

The beta Toolkit is available via the original Toolkit at https://www.rdatoolkit.org/.

A log-in to the original Toolkit is required.

The free 30-day trial subscription to RDA Toolkit includes the beta version as well as the original Toolkit.


Who are the intended users of the beta Toolkit?

The intended users of the beta Toolkit are cataloguers, cataloguing and metadata agencies, and trainers who wish to orientate to the new structure and layout of RDA and its user-controlled facilities, or to provide feedback to the 3R Project.


Should I apply the beta Toolkit instructions now in my everyday cataloguing work?

No, the instructions in the beta Toolkit are under development and may be changed without notice.


How do I provide feedback on the content and functionality of the beta Toolkit?

A feedback form is provided at https://www.rdatoolkit.org/form/3r-feedback. The form is also accessible via a menu item in the top right of every page in the beta Toolkit. Feedback can also be submitted via the RSC Region infrastructure; for further information see http://www.rda-rsc.org/regions.


What is the timetable for future development?

Development of the guidance and instructions and refinement of their structure and layout is expected to continue until the end of 2018. The RSC will make decisions on the final stages of the 3R Project at its meeting in Montreal, Canada, in October 2018. The beta phase of the new Toolkit will end when RSC and ALA Publishing agree that the revision of content and structure is complete and the RDA Board approves the replacement of the original Tookit with the new version.


Why are there so many options in the beta Toolkit?

An instruction that is marked as an option in the beta Toolkit may be followed at the discretion of the Toolkit user, based on policy statements, other application profile information, and cataloguer’s judgement. This is partially implied in the original Toolkit where no element is mandatory but some are marked as “core” to reflect latent agreement on policy in the pre-LRM Anglo-American and associated international cataloguing traditions. The new Toolkit is more explicit in order to allow a more consistent, clear, and coherent approach to using RDA to suit the needs of local applications and communities operating in a global environment. The impact of the LRM, the extension of RDA recording methods, and the strategy for developing RDA for international, cultural heritage, and linked data communities all mean more choice for tailoring RDA for a wider range of applications.


What are the major changes in instructions between the original Toolkit and the beta Toolkit?

Major changes in instructions are expected for the treatment of:

  • Aggregates and serials, resulting from the new approach in the LRM.
  • Non-human personages, including fictitious entities, animals, and legendary beings, resulting from the definition of the Person entity in the LRM.
  • Names, titles, and access points, resulting from the introduction of RDA elements for access points.
  • Transcribed and recorded data, resulting from the new LRM manifestation statement element and the extension of RDA recording methods.
  • Attribute elements that are now relationship elements, resulting from the new LRM entities for Nomen, Place, and Timespan.


What is an application profile, and how is it relevant to the beta Toolkit?

An application profile is documentation that indicates which RDA elements are required or desirable to meet the needs of a specific application. A profile will also determine which elements are repeatable or non-repeatable, preferred recording methods, and preferred sources of values such as vocabulary encoding schemes.

The new Toolkit supports a much wider range of applications, so some form of application profile is essential to ensure consistency and coherency in the maintenance of data for any specific application.

The beta Toolkit provides user-generated bookmarks, workflows, and internal documents to implement an application profile. The 3R Project is developing methods for linking external documentation to instructions, and is investigating ways of allowing a specific application to “inherit” a broader application profile.


What is the visual browser, and when will it be added to the beta Toolkit?

The visual browser is a graphic interface to the complete RDA entity and element relationship hierarchies. It will provide point and click navigation through the elements, to complement the relationship matrix, entity element list, related element hierarchy, and search facilities of the beta Toolkit. It will be added to the new Toolkit at the end of 2018 or early in 2019.


When will the RSC begin accepting formal proposals for changes to RDA, and what process should be followed?

The RSC will discuss the wider communications infrastructure and policies for developing RDA at its meeting in Montreal, Canada, in October 2018. The RSC will take into account the need for more flexibility in the proposal and consultation processes within the new governance structure of RDA. The RSC intends to implement the processes at the same time as the content of the new Toolkit is stabilized, early in 2019. Proposals should be held back until then, unless the relevant RDA Region committee indicates that it is willing to coordinate and stockpile them.

3R Project



What is the 3R Project?

The RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign (3R) Project adds greater flexibility and utility to RDA Toolkit's display of instructions and RDA-related documents and updates the look and feel of the site. The restructure portion of the project involved a major rebuild of the instruction repository in order to bring it in line with current data management best practices, make RDA data more modular and dynamic, and allow the RSC to track and manage a greater range of metadata associated with the instructions. The redesign portion of the project included adoption of a responsive design and a plan to bring the site in compliance with established accessibility standards. There are also improvements to toolkit navigation, display, and features to create a user experience that is more intrinsically of the web. At the same time, RDA is being edited to bring it in compliance with the IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM).


When will the 3R Project be completed?

The first release of the new Toolkit was made available June 13, 2018. This release is a beta version of the new site in English only. It includes:

  • An initial implementation of LRM
  • Reorganized RDA instructions
  • Redesigned Personal and Institutional Profile capabilities
  • Search and navigation functions
  • Cross-Reference and Cross-Reference Preview functions
  • Element Reference feature for each RDA element
  • Introduction of responsive design and greatly improved accessibility to the overall site

There will be periodic updates (likely September, December, and February) to both the RDA standard and the Toolkit site during the months that follow the initial release. These updates will include the following:

  • Refinements to the wording of the RDA standard
  • Introduction of a graphical browse tool
  • Translations of the RDA standard
  • Introduction of policy statements and integrated display

The goal for having the site fully functional with most (if not all) the translations and policy statements is early 2019.


Will there be training for the new Toolkit and the new RDA content?

Yes. ALA Digital Reference will offer free webinars on using the new Toolkit. The RDA Steering Committee will continue to add relevant webinars and presentations on the new content to its website Presentations section. National and regional RDA communities are expected to develop in-house training materials and make them freely available online, as happened when RDA Toolkit was first published.


Will the pre-3R Project Toolkit continue to be available after the release of the new Toolkit?

Yes, the April 2017 release of the Toolkit will be available for a year after the final 3R Project release.


Why isn’t this called RDA 2.0?

RDA is an integrating resource: the RDA Steering Committee intends to develop the content of RDA over time. If a version number were added every time RDA was updated, it would be far beyond 2.0.

RDA Redesign and Restructure



Will the instructions in the new RDA Toolkit be numbered and how will they be referenced?

The Project is trying to avoid using sequential numbering in the new Toolkit to resolve problems with the current system, including deleted or inserted instructions and inconsistent hierarchies and groupings. The granularity of the new Toolkit structure is refined from the current entity combinations, such as Manifestation and Item, to individual elements of a single entity that will be referenced by an element label. The Project is discussing ways of providing hyperlinks to the instructions using the URI of each element in the RDA Registry. The new Toolkit will support searching by the old instruction numbers; searching for 2.11 for Copyright date will find the new location of the copyright date instructions. However, the new structure of the Toolkit means that this kind of mapping will not always work, with some current instructions dispersed to several locations. There are no plans to publish a separate concordance. The new Toolkit is designed to improve context-sensitive navigation between elements that will help users to quickly locate the instructions for any element.


Will there be an index to RDA?

There are no plans for a separate index. The new Toolkit will continue to have a full Glossary containing entries for every RDA entity, element, and vocabulary encoding scheme term.


Will a print version of the RDA guidance and instructions be available?

ALA Publishing intends to publish a print version of RDA. Obviously, decisions will need to be made about organization, order, types of examples provided, etc., since no print version really will be able to mirror the online experience.


Will there be an opportunity for customizing the new Toolkit?

The new Toolkit will allow customization at two levels: the institutional subscription, and the individual user within that institution. The institution and user profiles will set preferences for the display of policy statements, examples, etc.


Will AACR2 be available in the new Toolkit?

Yes, as a historical document. The mappings between AACR2 and RDA content will not be maintained.


Will examples in MARC be added to RDA?

No. The use of RDA data in specific applications, including MARC, is out of scope for RDA. RDA data is intended to meet the needs of a wide range of applications and user communities. However, there are freely available examples of RDA cataloging, including examples in MARC bibliographic and authority format, on the RDA Toolkit website. These will continue to be available and updated sometime after the 3R Project is complete.


Will RDA mappings change?

Yes. The mappings from RDA to MARC 21 found on the Tools Tab of the current site are very large tables that are difficult to navigate and to maintain. These tables will be deconstructed and the MARC 21 data will be displayed in the Element Reference section of each pertinent element. The MARC 21 tags will be searchable. Other deconstructed mappings will be added in later releases of RDA Toolkit.


How will the revision history of RDA be documented?

Neither the current revision history documents nor the current revision history practice will be carried over to the redesigned Toolkit. With the completion of 3R, a new practice of "Release Notes" will accompany every release to the Toolkit and will be provided for each update to an RDA translation. Release Notes will include a list of the instructions that have been revised, added or deleted, and a brief summary of the reason for the action. The notes will be accompanied by an archive of PDFs for the altered instructions. User may download these archived PDFs and the new PDFs, and then may use an application for comparing different versions of PDF documents. The Toolkit will provide a list of such applications that are available online or for download.

RDA Content



Why is RDA being changed to align with the IFLA Library Reference Model?

The IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM) was published by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in October 2017. It is a consolidation of the models for Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD), and Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data (FRSAD). Alignment with these models remains one of the key design elements of RDA, and is the basis for the protocol between the RDA Steering Committee and the FRBR Review Group.


What are the benefits of aligning with the IFLA Library Reference Model?

The LRM is an international standard for bibliographic metadata that is compatible with metadata standards used in other cultural heritage communities, such as the museums community. It is optimized for use in the Semantic Web and linked open data, and is an essential component of the strategic development of RDA for the international, cultural heritage, and linked data communities.


What are the issues in aligning with the IFLA Library Reference Model, and how will they be resolved?

The LRM is a high-level model that is intended for refinement by an implementation such as RDA. The 3R Project has not encountered many problems. The main issue is the LRM’s restriction of the Person entity to a real person; that is, the exclusion of fictitious and legendary beings and animals. The RDA Steering Committee anticipated this problem a couple of years ago, and set up the RSC Fictitious Entities Working Group to investigate and develop solutions. RDA will be developed to align with the narrower definition of Person, and provide alternative accommodation for data concerning “non-human personages”. The LRM re-assigns a few elements to a different entity, such as musical medium of performance from Work to Expression. The RDA instructions will be changed accordingly, but this will have little impact on RDA applications that do not make a distinction within the FRBR Work/Expression and Manifestation/Item pairs of entities. Some of the current RDA relationship designators will be re-grouped to align with broader LRM relationships, but this is not expected to have an adverse effect.

The LRM also incorporates the work of the IFLA Working Group on Aggregates; this area of RDA’s coverage is under-developed following the recommendation of the Working Group to await the consolidation of the models.


Why is the LRM Res entity not included in RDA?

The LRM uses Res as a super-entity of the other LRM entities, and as a mechanism for extending the model to specific implementations. RDA itself is an implementation of the LRM and does not require a broader entity for extension beyond the other LRM entities. Instead, the top entity is the new "RDA entity", a super-class of the other RDA entities and a sub-class of Res.


What is a manifestation statement and why should I use it?

LRM defines it as a statement appearing in exemplars of the manifestation and deemed to be significant for users to understand how the resource represents itself. This will be implemented in RDA as a transcription of data appearing on the manifestation without the most of the “adjustments” done now such as changing capitalization and adding punctuation. There are two primary benefits to using manifestation statements. First, it supports the “identify” user task even more than the current “transcribed” elements in cases when it is important for the user to get as close an idea as is practical without an image of how the data appears on the manifestation Second, it supports machine transcription derived from digitized and born-digital manifestations. When libraries decide it is not cost effective for catalogers to manipulate manifestation data, this method allows for data to be recorded at a high level element.


How will the subject relationships be included in RDA?

The current RDA chapters on subject relationships will be incorporated in the new Toolkit with some revision. This is consistent with the LRM, which allows Res, that is any thing, to be the subject of a work. However, the RSC has determined that more specific instruction on subject cataloging are out of scope for RDA and not needed as there are many existing subject cataloging schemes. The current “placeholder” chapters on concept, object, and event will be removed to be consistent with the evolution from FRBR Group 3 through FRSAD to the LRM.

Moving forward with RDA



What is the way forward for implementing linked data with RDA?

We will need a linked data framework that is fully compatible with RDA; then it needs to be implemented by a “critical mass” of metadata providers and creators. The RDA Steering Committee is working toward supporting this future vision by registering terms, definitions, scope notes, and semantic relationships in the Open Metadata Registry and by explicitly making the linked data (IRI) recording method available throughout the Toolkit. It will be difficult to avoid reliance on strings for linking data, currently supported in RDA for bibliographic/authority and entity-relationship database scenarios, until the MARC 21 encoding format evolves or is replaced. Specialized applications that use normalized entity-relational databases will be able to move to linked data much more quickly.


Where are the systems that can take advantage of RDA and related standards?

We are in something of a classic chicken vs. egg problem, where vendors are waiting to take the lead from libraries, and vice versa. There is some important work taking place, especially in the Linked Data for Libraries (LD4L) project, but until there is a stable framework that enough libraries are willing to implement, we’ll continue in this waiting game. Note that RIMMF (RDA in Many Metadata Formats) takes direct advantage of RDA and associated standards to provide a package that is useful for training and orientation in RDA. RIMMF is being used to create operational metadata for some small-scale, localized collections. The RDA Development Team is working with the developers of RIMMF to implement the new features of RDA and changes to the current elements.


How is the RDA Registry developed during the 3R Project?

The RDA Registry is the source of Toolkit data for element and vocabulary encoding scheme labels, definitions, scope notes, translations, and mappings, so it is part of the operational production of the Toolkit and other RDA related publications. The Registry is updated with changes arising from decisions made by the RDA Steering Committee to lock into the Toolkit release schedule, but it may also be updated more frequently to support developers of RDA applications. The English Toolkit content is frozen until June 2018, but changes to the Registry content will be published in advance as part of the production of the new Toolkit.

Posted 1 January 2018; updated 28 July 2018